Are We Redefining Executive Presence?

Are we redefining executive presence? When I consider how our work environments are morphing (remote/virtual offices, work hubs/collaborative spaces, casual work attire, flex work hours, technology/AI), the speed at which we’re doing business and the pressure on resources, it would be no surprise to see a redefinition of executive presence.

But let’s take a look at this. According to Sylvia Ann Hewlett, author of Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success, executive presence is how well a person speaks, looks, and acts like a leader. With executive presence, your actions line up with your intentions, stated and unstated.

So the real question is: how do people perceive you? Do your actions underline or undermine your presence as a leader? Consider the following excerpt from a Fast Company article, that published some time ago:

According to FedEx, its best leaders share nine personal attributes – which the company defines with remarkable specificity. FedEx also has a system for rating aspiring leaders on whether they possess these attributes. How do you rate? Judge yourself against these edited descriptions of the nine faces of leadership at FedEx.

Charisma: Instills faith, respect, and trust. Has a special gift of seeing what others need to consider. Conveys a strong sense of mission.

Individual consideration: Coaches, advises, and teaches people who need it. Actively listens and gives indications of listening. Gives newcomers a lot of help.

Intellectual stimulation: Gets others to use reasoning and evidence, rather than unsupported opinion. Enables others to think about old problems in new ways. Communicates in a way that forces others to rethink ideas that they had never questioned before.

Courage: Willing to stand up for ideas even if they are unpopular. Does not give in to pressure or to others’ opinions in order to avoid confrontation. Will do what’s right for the company and for employees even if it causes personal hardship.

Dependability: Follows through and keeps commitments. Takes responsibility for actions and accepts responsibility for mistakes. Works well independently of the boss.

Flexibility: Functions effectively in changing environments. When a lot of issues hit at once, handles more than one problem at a time. Changes course when the situation warrants it.

Integrity: Does what is morally and ethically right. Does not abuse management privileges. Is a consistent role model.

Judgment: Reaches sound and objective evaluations of alternative courses of action through logic, analysis, and comparison. Puts facts together rationally and realistically. Uses past experience and information to bring perspective to present decisions.

Respect for others: Honors and does not belittle the opinions or work of other people, regardless of their status or position.

It seems to me these attributes are still vital for any leader of a successful organization; they define executive presence. What do you think? I’d love to hear from you. You can call me at 704-827-4474; let’s talk. And as always, I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.

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